Newcomers tend to face a pay gap in comparison to the local workforce. They accept “survivor” jobs or are underemployed just to get started.
Many of them then get stuck in low-paying roles beyond the anticipated transition period. Then when we factor in a gender pay gap, there can be a double impact on new families settling down after relocating, particularly if they rely on incomes from both members of a family. It is hard enough to live on one income for many Canadians. If the primary breadwinner is a woman, it adds even more challenges in contrast to men.
Considerable improvement has been made worldwide with women’s education and workforce participation. However, even with equal rights policies in many parts of the world, women still earn less than men. The impact disproportionally affects those with low incomes, newcomers, minorities and indigenous women. The income imbalance is a major contributor to inequality and poverty.
Equal pay for equal work is a logical statement. Sadly, it is not yet fully embraced.
The recent high-profile voices from the U.S. women’s national soccer team that just won the World Cup in France is bringing the issue of a pay gap with the men’s team into the global spotlight. Removing the wage imbalance between men and women is critical. It is a primary instrument to achieve inclusive societies, as well as to sustain economies. Women’s work and skills should not go unrecognized. Addressing this issue tends to have a positive impact and improve economic growth in societies. Equal pay for equal work needs to go from being a goal to becoming a reality.
According to both the Conference Board of Canada and Statistics Canada, a higher percentage of women are in lower paying occupations. Even in comparable jobs, women tend to earn less than men.
In Nova Scotia, we are making headway at about the same pace as in the U.K. and Switzerland. Federally, as well as many provinces and territories, have decreased the gender wage gap. Statistics Canada indicates that nationally the wage gap decreased from 24 per cent in 2000 to 18.2 per cent in 2016. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Manitoba improved the most by reducing the wage gap by 34 per cent since 2000.
So, how do we close the wage gap?
The Conference Board of Canada recommends encouraging more women to pursue degrees in traditionally male-dominated fields and to seek employment in higher wage occupations. In addition, early exposure for young girls to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can make a difference.
Ultimately, the goal is to provide a welcoming labour market that leads to job satisfaction.